Epic training

At the Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard in South Korea, three gigantic vessels are emerging to join their predecessor Corcovado. Their epic names - Olympia, Poseidon and Mykonos - are appropriate both for sixth generation ultra-deepwater drill rigs and the training challenges they pose.

Arne Jacobsen, assistant rig manager involved in building Ocean Rig's four ultra-deepwater drill rigs at the Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard in South Korea, has a bewildering list of key responsibilities. He has to liaise with the shipyard and vendors to prepare the ships for operation, while always keeping an attentive eye on site safety, environmental impacts and emergency preparedness – which means being well acquainted with national and international laws and regulations.

As if this isn't enough, Jacobsen is also intimately involved in organising the training programme that Kongsberg Maritime is running for the rig crews: "I have been involved in negotiating the training packages with Kongsberg and coordinating this with our commissioning activity to ensure that we also have necessary personnel on site at any given time," he explains, adding that: "this reflects just some of my responsibility for the prepping of the ships for operation."

Fast track training...

Although Ocean Rig regularly uses Kongsberg for ad hoc training needs, the task of bringing 120 new employees quickly up to speed in the middle of the rig construction period is quite a different ballgame. In autumn 2010, Jacobsen began a close collaboration with Kongsberg's global operations training manager, Nils-Ivar Pedersen. After an initial phase training the marine and operational personnel for the first rig, Corcovado, the duo began meeting weekly to tailor more comprehensive training packages for the three rigs still under construction.

"We need to man up six to seven months before we take delivery of a rig. And all personnel have to be trained while they are participating in the commissioning, getting to know the vessel and the equipment onboard," says Jacobsen, who underlines that getting four 40-strong crews, many of them new employees, on the same page at the same time is a major challenge. "Pulling off 75 courses for electrical, technical and marine crew during a really intensive period requires enormous coordination. We need a steep learning curve in order to deliver on time and budget – it's a real fast track!"

Pedersen confirms, especially with newbuild rigs and many staff new to Kongsberg's technology, that this tight cooperation is essential for creating a good planning horizon and succeeding with tailored training for the equipment onboard.

... for tailor-made success

The duo's solution is a complete package of training carefully tailored to Ocean Rig's ambitious rollout plan for the four rigs. As there are many new hires, Jacobsen also wants to gather the crews as part of a team building process. All the marine crews, for example, train together in a three-week module, getting to know one another while getting up to speed on technical and operational aspects.

As Pedersen explains, Kongsberg's training programmes are module based, allowing course participants to take part in training that is tailored to their needs: "We have a lot of different training modules in Kongsberg Maritime. Many clients want roughly half of the same core modules and the rest of the training adapted to their specific needs. Consequently, we offer modules that the instructor can mix and match into a complete training package."

What are the key elements of successful training? Jacobsen is unequivocal: "We need assured quality and in-built flexibility. Kongsberg is highly committed to its training services and has had them certified by Det Norske Veritas, so the quality is excellent. Kongsberg's flexibility means that we get tailored training packages, plus dif- ferent training options, like simulators, and a range of training facilities to choose from, like their Korean centre at Busan, which is conveniently located for the shipyard."

Hi-tech and highly skilled

In January, Ocean Rig took delivery of the Corcovado rig from Samsung. The three remaining drill ships, based upon the Saipem 10K design, are scheduled for delivery this March, July and September. Construction is running smoothly.

On his first posting in Asia, Jacobsen has been positively surprised by the South Korean work ethic: "Local people hardly seem to have ‘no' in their vocabulary, and the enormous pride they put into their work results in high quality. They are highly skilled and work well in hi-tech environments," he enthuses.

It is hardly surprising that Ocean Rig, owner of advanced fifth- and sixth-generation semi-submersible drill rigs, leverages knowledge as a key competitive advantages. "Our rigs are equipped with state-of-the-art technology operated by highly skilled crews, so top-notch training is pivotal for our business success," Arne underlines.

Neither is it surprising that Kongsberg Maritime's sophisticated new DPS 4D differential positioning and hydro acoustic systems are part of the new rigs' equipment. KM delivers systems to almost every ship that leaves the Samsung shipyard in Korea.

Uncompromising approach

State-of-the-art technology is not the only thing that differentiates Ocean Rig from the competition. They also have an uncompromising attitude to providing optimally safe, efficient and environmentally sound drilling services for oil and gas exploration and development in ultra deepwaters and harsh environments.

"Our vision is to be the drilling contractor of choice for our customers, employees and shareholders, and we therefore develop our HES&Q and management systems to ensure that we exceed client expectations of both operational efficiency and environmental and safety standards," explains Jacobsen. "On the safety side, we aim for incident-free environments and on the environment side for zero discharge systems with low emissions. To achieve this, key knowledge and experience must go hand-in-hand with functional systems and knowledgeable people.

"Add operating in ultra deepwaters and harsh environments to the equation, and you can see this is a tall order. That's why thorough, specialised training is needed to quality assure our employees' skills."

An epic story continues

Ocean Rig and Kongsberg have already achieved some milestones together. In January 2010, Ocean Rig's semi-submersible, Leiv Eiriksson, successfully navigated the Bosphorus Strait thanks to an earlier training and technology delivery collaboration. The rig is one of the first vessels to apply Kongsberg's DPS 4D dynamic positioning technology, which was essential for avoiding the bridges and other hazards to satellite-based systems the Bosporus is famous for.

Back in the Samsung shipyard, the Olympia and Poseidon are nearing completion and the Mykonos is 50 percent complete. The close partnership between Jacobsen and Pedersen will continue until September.

"I will follow the entire process through to the final delivery," says Jacobsen, sounding eager. "However, we have the option of building four more rigs at the shipyard, so Nils-Ivar may not be finished with adapting his training programmes to our needs quite yet."

DPS 4D Differential Positioning System

  • Uses the latest advances in GPS/GLONASS technology, aided by inertial technology
  • Has an intuitive and easy to use Human Machine Interface (HMI) developed in close co-operation with end-users
  • Developed by specialist position reference and satellite positioning division, Kongsberg Seatex

Kongsberg Maritime training programmes

  • Uses the latest advances in GPS/GLONASS technology, aided by inertial technology
  • Has an intuitive and easy to use Human Machine Interface (HMI) developed in close co-operation with end-users
  • Developed by specialist position reference and satellite positioning division, Kongsberg Seatex